How to Choose an HVAC Certification Class near Benicia California
Now that you have come to a decision on a career as a heating and air conditioning specialist, the next step is to find an HVAC technical school near Benicia CA. But with so many to select from, how do you select the best one to receive the training that you require? Some potential students will make their decision based entirely on the price of tuition or how near the school is to their residence. Although these are important concerns, they are not the only ones to take into account. Just some of the other factors that you need to research are the graduation rates of the HVAC schools, their reputations, and if they are accredited by professional trade organizations. Those and other benchmarks will be discussed in more detail later in this article. But before we examine how to pick an HVAC trade school, let’s take a look at what a heating and air conditioning specialist does to become a licensed professional tradesman.
How to Become an HVAC Pro in Benicia CA
HVAC is an acronym that is widely used in the business that stands for “Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning”. HVAC contractors specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters and heating systems. As skilled tradesmen, they are generally mandated to be licensed, although each state and local municipality has its own prerequisites. Earning professional certification is not required, but a voluntary means for Benicia CA HVAC technicians to establish that they are highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of specialization. There are several acknowledged certifications within the field that are offered. Following are a few of the significant ones.
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE is a nationally acknowledged certification for HVAC techs. The certification is achieved by passing a proficiency examination and may be earned in one or more specialties.
- HVAC Excellence. This certification makes available both a professional and a master specialist credential. 2 years of field experience in addition to passing a comprehensive examination are required for the professional level certification. Master specialists must have 3 years of experience together with a passing result on the professional level exam. As with NATE, certifications are offered in various specialties.
- EPA Section 608. This certification is necessary for technicians that work with refrigerants. There are three forms of certification available, one for small appliances, and the additional two for low and high pressure refrigerants.
Considering that licensing might be mandated in your location, and you may also intend to obtain certification, it’s important that you pick an HVAC technical school that will prepare you for both. And since you will probably be handling refrigerants, make sure that the program you choose preps you for passing the EPA Section 608 examinations.
HVAC Degree and Certificate Training Programs
There are a variety of alternatives available for HVAC training in a vocational or trade school. You can attain a certificate, an Associate Degree, or a Bachelor’s Degree. Obtaining a certificate will take the least period of time, usually accomplished in as little as 6 months, however some programs are longer. A certificate will qualify you for most HVAC positions, particularly if you are licensed and have certification applicable to the position. The degree programs can provide a competitive edge in the job market and will furnish more comprehensive training than the certificate programs. Below is a brief summary of each option offered near Benicia CA.
- Certificate. Usually requiring a high school diploma, certificate programs are preferred among beginning residential or commercial HVAC technicians. They furnish a strong foundation of skills for job opportunities within the industry.
- Associate Degree. The Associate Degree in HVAC program delivers a more detailed knowledge of heating and cooling systems than the certificate program. Typically taking 2 years to complete, a number of degrees include an internship or work-study program.
- Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s Degree in HVAC is geared more for a career in management or even business ownership. Some programs require an Associate Degree, while others are a traditional four year program. In addition to being taught how to service and maintain heating and air conditioning systems, you will also learn how to design them.
Picking the right credential program will be dependent on what your long term career objectives are, along with the time and financial resources that you have to commit. One option is to start with a certificate or perhaps an Associate Degree program, and after gaining some experience in the trade in Benicia CA, eventually returning to earn a Bachelor’s Degree. If this is your tactic, be sure to ask the HVAC tech school you are looking at about how their returning student program works.
HVAC Courses Online
Enrolling in an HVAC school online is one alternative in obtaining your training and receiving a certificate or degree. Most schools will call for some attendance on campus to take part in hands on training. A number also provide internship or work-study programs in addition to or instead of practical lab work. But since the balance of the classes may be attended on the web, this option may be a more accessible solution for some Benicia CA students that are short on time. And a number of online degree programs are less costly than other traditional options. Even travelling expenses from Benicia and study materials can be reduced, helping to make schooling more economical. And many online schools are fully accredited (more on this later). So if your work or family responsibilities have left you with minimal time to attend classes, maybe an online HVAC degree program will make it more convenient to accommodate school into your active schedule.
Questions to Ask HVAC Certification Courses near Benicia CA
After you have chosen the type of certificate or degree that you want to obtain, either online or on campus, you can begin to limit your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are numerous HVAC technical schools in the Benicia CA area and all over the United States to pick from. That’s why it is imperative to have a checklist of key qualifiers when making school comparisons. As previously mentioned in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the initial two factors you will consider. Following are several additional ones that you will want to research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. Numerous HVAC vocational schools in the Benicia CA area have received either a regional or a national accreditation. They may receive Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs overall, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved accrediting organization, for instance the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping guarantee that you get a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools. Furthermore, a number of states mandate that the HVAC training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing.
High Completion Rates. Ask the Heating and Air Conditioning schools you are considering what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A lower completion rate may signify that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It might also mean that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It’s also important that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a more extensive directory of graduates, which may result in more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only confirm that the school has an excellent reputation within the industry, but also that it has the network of Benicia CA HVAC employers to help students acquire apprenticeships or employment.
Apprenticeship Programs. Numerous HVAC vocational programs are taught along with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of HVAC companies or trade unions. Check if the schools you are considering have referring partnerships with local Benicia CA HVAC specialists. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by furnishing practical training, but it also provides employment opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area HVAC professional community.
Modern Facilities. Confirm that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are currently in an internship or an apprenticeship, check with the HVAC tech you are working with regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Benicia CA HVAC contracting company if they can provide some tips. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within commuting distance of your Benicia CA home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, in addition to relocation costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s important that you get as much one-on-one instruction as possible, which can be challenging in bigger classes. Ask if you can monitor some of the classes so that you can observe how big they are and witness first hand the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with several of the students and get their feedback relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to some of the teachers and learn what their level of experience is and what certifications or degrees they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the programs you are evaluating are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you are only able to attend classes at night or on weekends near Benicia CA, verify that the schools you are comparing provide those choices. If you can only attend part-time, be sure that the school you select offers part-time enrollment. Also, check out what the protocol is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, sickness or family issues.
Attending HVAC School near Benicia CA?
Benicia (/bəˈniːʃə/ bə-NEE-shə; bə-NI-shə; Spanish pronunciation: [beˈnisja]) is a waterside city in Solano County, California, located in the North Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. It served as the state capital for nearly thirteen months from 1853 to 1854. The population was 26,997 at the 2010 census. The city is located along the north bank of the Carquinez Strait. Benicia is just east of Vallejo and across the strait from Martinez. Elizabeth Patterson has served as Mayor of Benicia since 2007.
The town is divided into four areas: the East Side (east of First Street), the West Side (west of First Street), Southampton (north of 780), and the industrial park. Most of the town's older homes are on the east and west sides. Southampton contains primarily single-family housing developments and condominiums, most of which were built between 1970 and 2000. The East Side includes the Benicia Arsenal, a former United States Army armory, which was bought by the city and is now used for a variety of purposes, most notably as live-work spaces for artists. The Arsenal is home to several historic (ca. 1860) landmark buildings such as The Clock Tower, the Camel Barn, and the Jefferson Street Mansion. The industrial park lies to the northeast of the residential areas of the city, and includes the Valero oil refinery. The Benicia State Recreation Area is on the far west edge of the city.
The main retail area in Benicia is First Street, which attracts out-of-town antique and boutique shoppers and those seeking small-town, historic charm. In 1987 Benicia was selected to participate in the California Main Street Program.
Pick the Right HVAC Trade School near Benicia CA
Choosing the ideal HVAC training program is a crucial first step toward a fulfilling career in the heating and air conditioning industry. As we have discussed in this post, you should choose a technical school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the HVAC profession. Other features to look for are plenty of hands-on training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to explore the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the instruction and the interaction between them. Additionally, ask about scheduling choices and whether or not evening or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to ask about financial assistance and student loan options too. If you ask the proper questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you’ll be able to filter your choices so that you can make an informed decision. With the right training, hard work and dedication, you can ultimately become a licensed HVAC contractor in Benicia CA.
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